This discussion originated in a conference call around the Humanity 4.0 slideshow. The call was hosted by FourYears.Go.  It continued in a series of incredibly rich emails among participants, and I thought I’d move it here in the hope of sharing what we’re learning and inviting others into the conversation.

Recently, several people have asked whether I thought the term “self-organizing” was more appropriate than “self-integrating” (the term used in Humanity 4.0 to describe the role or activity of life within a living system).

“Self-organizing” is certainly more familiar and easier to grasp immediately. And it’s a term that I use in addition to “self-integrating,” though not interchangeably. To me, the concept of integration is key. The word “integrate” comes from ’intus-gerere’, which means ’to generate inside.’ A living system doesn’t simply _organize_ all its component parts. It _integrates_ them into an emergent whole, with properties of its own that can’t be understood by looking only at the behavior of the parts. It creates a new form of life from the parts, without abandoning their “partness.”

My sense is that this is an important paradox for us to grasp at this stage in human evolution: we can _be_ the convergent whole (of a family, or a community, or all humanity) without losing our divergent voice. I’m not sure that this point comes through clearly if we talk only of self-organizing.

What are your thoughts about this?

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